Bishops of Latin America to testify at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

March 19, 2015

At 2 p.m. today, representatives of the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM) will be testifying at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on the abuses of North American mining companies on the continent.

Communities in resource-rich countries such as Peru, Honduras and Ecuador, have seen the arrival of foreign mining companies, especially Canadian ones, on their land to exploit their resources, and often without their consent. In many instances, these companies do not respect the rights of the communities, who suffer negative consequences, such as displacement, the destruction of their environment and health-related issues. In addition, the communities experience very few benefits from the wealth of these resources.

Last year, Development and Peace helped give voice to the communities through its Voice for Justice campaign that called on the Canadian Government to put in place an ombudsman who can receive complaints from communities in the Global South experiencing human rights abuses by Canadian extractive companies.

This audience at the IACHR is an important step in seeking justice for these marginalized communities. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) sent a letter of support to CELAM in its hearing at the IACHR.

“It is a particular concern to us as well that the majority of mining operations in Latin America are controlled by companies registered in Canada. It is also unfortunate to observe that in many cases those most negatively affected by extractive industries are Indigenous peoples,” wrote Most Rev. Paul-André Durocher, President of the CCCB and Archbishop of Gatineau.

You can read the letter in its entirety here.

In addition, Most Rev. Donald Bolen, President of the Justice and Peace Commission of the CCCB and Bishop of Saskatoon, has travelled to Washington D.C. to be present at the hearing and be in solidarity with the bishops and people of Latin America.

You can watch the hearing live here.
It will take place in the Padilha Vidal room.